Finally Flag

What happens when the engine in your 92′ Saturn overheats on a dirt road in the most remote mountain range in southern Utah? And you have to show up for your first day of work, 300 miles away, on Monday (its currently Saturday evening)? Oh yeah, and there is a 90,000 acre forest fire raging in your path? Of course, there’s no cellphone reception either. I can tell you…

This is what happened to me last week as I was en route to my SOS internship in Flagstaff, AZ. I guess even before the internship started I learned a little something about flexibility, preparation, and respect for the environment.

On my particular adventure, I happened to be very fortunate. I had plenty of food and water.  My car continued to work, although the generator was out (meaning things like power steering, A/C, and headlights were gone). I had AAA, which meant that when I found cell service I could be towed to the nearest repair facility free of charge, which happened to be an hour and a half out of the way. The repair itself turned out to be a relatively inexpensive part (tensioner) which the shop had in stock. And, though I arrived a day late to my internship, my supervisor was very understanding.

I found that it was important to keep a positive attitude when my plans deteriorated. My night of camping in the mountains turned into a brief lesson on car mechanics. My smooth, timely trip to Flagstaff turned into a side-trip to Loa, Utah, a place I would never get to see in normal circumstances. My extra day in Loa (EVERY single business closes on Sunday, including the repair shop) turned into an opportunity to explore surrounding BLM lands. The giant detour outside of Flagstaff became an opportunity to drive through the Grand Canyon, free of charge!

Hopefully the rest of the internship will be free of such dramatic hang-ups, although one never knows. What is certain is that there are some practical tips I have recently picked up from working out here: Bring two car keys. Don’t forget your cell phone. Inspect your vehicle. Bring extra food and water. Have fun!

Steve F

Flagstaff, AZ

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